In the earlier seasons of the reality competition show, American Idol, positive LGBTQ+ representation was nonexistent. While there were contestants like Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert on the show, their sexualities were glossed over for the American viewing public. It wasn’t until after leaving American Idol both Aiken and Lambert were fully open about their sexualities.
This practice changed when Idol, which previously aired on FOX from 2002-2016, returned after a two year hiatus on ABC. In season 16 of American Idol, there were two LGBTQ contestants, Ada Vox and Jurnee, that not only made into the competition but were in the top 10.
Ada Vox had previously appeared on season 12 as Adam Sanders and was eliminated after making it to the top 50. As a result of his appearance on that season, Sanders became the target of online bullies trolling him over his weight and sexuality. It was after overcoming that low point in his life, Sanders returned to audition for Idol as his drag identity, Ada Vox. Vox was one of the first three eliminated from the Top 10.
Jurnee was eliminated during Hollywood Week on a previous season. In her Season 16 audition clip, Jurnee comes out as a lesbian with a girlfriend in the United States Army. Jurnee tied for sixth place.
Season 17 saw a significant rise in LGBTQ+ representation with Bumbly, Ryan Hammond, Uché, Dimitrius Graham, and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon. While Bumbly and Ryan were eliminated before the top 15, the remaining three made it to the top 10.
Now back in its 18th season, Robert Taylor III is the newest addition to LGBTQ contestants on American Idol.
Taylor, a 27 year-old from Louisiana, was featured in Sunday’s episode of Idol. He performed “Bruises” by Lewis Capaldi on a piano for his audition. After the audition, there was a clip of Taylor talking about his life including how he was raised in a deeply religious family who shunned him when he came out. His father, who died of a drug overdose, was the only person in his family that was supportive of his sexuality. Taylor impresses the judges with his audition sending him through to the next round, Hollywood Week. Before Taylor leaves the room, judge Katy Perry gives him a hug and says, “There’s a lot of us here to support you. Okay? And it’s going to be fun.”
What did you think of Robert Taylor’s audition? Do you think he will make it to the Top 10? Let us know in the comments.